Hyde Park was the setting of one of the Rolling Stones' iconic concerts, a 1969 gig showcasing the live debut of Mick Taylor given just two days after the death of Brian Jones. Given this storied history, the group's 2013 return to the park was something of a big deal, so it's not entirely surprising that the Stones digitally released a live album commemorating the event -- the only surprise was that it arrived less than two weeks after the two gigs. Hyde Park Live cobbles together highlights from the July 6 and July 13 concerts, essentially replicating an entire set but making the necessary decisions whenever there were variations between the two nights (Keith's showcase features "Before They Make Me Run" from the 6th, not "Happy" from the 13th; "Street Fighting Man" from the 13th was chosen as the audience selection, not "All Down the Line"). Apart from these subtly shifting songs, "Emotional Rescue" (which made its debut on the Stones' 50th anniversary tour) and the new tune they're flogging ("Doom and Gloom," which sounds quite good in this setting), this is essentially a greatest hits that offers no real surprise in either songs or arrangements (the exception being "It's Only Rock N Roll," which now sounds more Chuck Berry than ever), but that doesn't mean Hyde Park Live isn't satisfying. The pleasure in this latter-day set -- a concert given just days before Mick Jagger's 70th birthday -- is that the group can crank out the hits and still sound good. Perhaps the sound is a little cleaner, perhaps they don't get as down and dirty as they once did, but they're still peerless entertainers who can dig deep, as the extended "Midnight Rambler" (showcasing a cameo from Mick Taylor), "Miss You," and "Honky Tonk Women" all show. These days, the band seems driven by Mick -- his stamina and showmanship burn brightly, overpowering everything outside of Charlie's swinging beat, but also the song selections slightly favor him over Keith -- but that's part of the story of the Stones: it see-saws between Jagger and Richards, the two having slightly different visions for the Stones yet usually finding a common ground. Here, they all just sound happy to still be the biggest rock & roll band 50 years after their inception, and that is an achievement that all the fans and boys in the band can celebrate.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine